Pesto with Zucchini

Pesto with Zucchini

(enough for one pound of pasta)

2 medium zucchini, sliced into rounds about 1/4 inch thick

2 tablespoons olive oil

These amounts aren't exact. A lot depends on how firmly you pack the basil into the measuring cup, how large the garlic cloves are, and of course, your taste buds.

4 cups basil, loosely packed

2 large cloves garlic

1/4 cut pistachios (or pine nuts)

extra virgin olive oil (as much as two cups, as needed to obtain a loose pesto)

1/4 cup - 1/2 cup parmesan cheese 

1 pound pasta - trofie, linguini or trenette are common in Italy with this sauce, but farfalle (bowties) or fusilli (pictured above) are nice too.

Sauté the zucchini rounds in the olive oil, adding salt and pepper to season. Cook until softened, but not mushy.

Start the water boiling for the pasta while you prepare the pesto sauce.

If using a food processor: Tear leaves from stem, wash, dry and place in a food processor, along with the garlic, nuts and a small amount of the olive oil. Start with 1/2 cup and keep adding more until it flows smoothly when you dip a spoon into it, but not so thin that it falls off in a stream. Use your judgment.

 Add parmesan cheese if serving immediately. If you're planning to freeze it, don't add the parmesan cheese until after you defrost it and are ready to serve.

If using a mortar and pestle, start with the washed and dried basil leaves, garlic and nuts and add a small amount of coarse salt to help break down the leaves. Pound with the pestle and slowly add a little bit of olive oil. Keep working the mixture with the pestle and add the rest of the oil as needed. The process takes a lot of patience and time.

After the pesto is made and the pasta is cooked, drain the pasta, holding onto a half cup or so of the water. You can use this to thin out the sauce when you're mixing the pesto into the pasta.

Mix the pesto with the pasta, then add the sautéed zucchini. Toss everything together, adding more pasta water if you need to thin out the sauce. Serve with additional parmesan cheese, if desired.